‘Survivor: Second Chance’ Brings Back Gross Eating Challenges


"Survivor: Second Chance" (CBS)

Quick Note: XFINITY TV sent me deep into the Cambodian wilderness to bring you all kinds of “Survivor: Second Chance” goodness. So, be sure to check back for exclusive interviews, photos, and behind-the-scenes tidbits. And, follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute news and info.

There have been many twists and turns to “Survivor” over the years, but I have to admit that the original premise is still my favorite; a big group of strangers, shipwrecked on a deserted island and forced to create their own society.

This means scrounging for useful items among the boat’s wreckage. It means creating elaborate “S.O.S.” displays. And it definitely means having to eat weird things found in the area. That’s why every time I visit a “Survivor” location I make it a point to harass Challenge Producer John Kirhoffer about gross food-eating challenges.

Well, let’s file this next story under; “Be Careful What You Wish For.”

Little did I know that Mr. Kirhoffer had something up his sleeve for my latest visit. Well, maybe it wasn’t up his sleeve, it was probably scampering in the jungle somewhere. At any rate, he was going to make me put my money (or something worse) where my mouth was and eat something horrific.

So, what’s the big deal? I’m always looking for new ways to participate in “Survivor” activities. It helps me understand the players’ motivations.


Fun Fact: You know how every elementary school has the smelly kid, or the kid who wets his pants, or the kid who cries when his mom drops him off? Well, I was the kid that was always throwing up.

That’s right. All anyone who attended Hanna Woods Elementary in the mid-to-late ’80s had to do was say the word “boogers” and I was sprinting for the bathroom. But, if Gervase could give it his best, so could I.

It was roughly 1,000 degrees out on the day we were scheduled to eat…whatever. As Parade.com’s Josh Wigler and I made our way to the challenge department, he asked me if this little event would count toward my 7-and-1 lifetime challenge record.

I hadn’t thought of that. With the previous day’s challenge victory under my belt, I was looking forward to at least 12 more months of bragging about my winning streak. I didn’t like Wigler’s question one bit.

“I don’t think it should count as a real challenge,” I said. “We’re not going to a real location with a cool set and Probst won’t be there.”

Whether or not Wigler bought my attempt to casually play it off was quickly rendered moot when we turned a corner and saw a well-dressed challenge location and a certain 40-time Emmy winner.

Who knew that Jeff Probst would demand to be present whenever I was about to do something potentially embarrassing?

The competitors; Mr. Wigler, “Entertainment Weekly’s” Dalton Ross, and myself were placed behind a table. On that table were three covered plates and to our sides were conveniently placed buckets. Apparently the buckets were there in lieu of a Hanna Woods Elementary School toilet.

The covers were removed and we were each greeted by a large, cooked scorpion. The tail had been cut off as that is the most dangerous part. Later, a production member also removed the claws.

As Probst gleefully discussed what we were about to endure, I was putting my plan in motion. I know this sounds weird, but I did my best to fill my mouth with as much saliva as possible. My theory was that it would dilute the terrible taste and make it go down quicker. It also made sense to try to take this monster in two portions. So, when Probst set us loose I was going to have to bite this thing in half.

My heart was pounding as Probst was building to his trademark line. I know what it’s like to run across a field or swim in the ocean. I have a good idea what it’s like to throw coconuts in a basket or dive into a mud pile. But, I had no idea what it was like to eat a scorpion.

But, when the man says, “Survivors, ready?” you don’t think. You go.

Well, he said it…and I did it.

And, right off the bat I made a mistake. I crammed the whole thing into my dumb, stupid face.

I’ve never been so mad at myself, but I wasn’t going to spit it up. I knew there was no way my stomach could handle the sight of mangled-up scorpion.

So, I chewed and chewed. And then a funny thing happened; I realized it wasn’t that gross. Later on, we came to the consensus that it was like eating soft-shell crab.

Not terribly unpleasant taste aside, this thing still needed to be swallowed. In the end I had to rock my head back like a duck in order to get it down. I cleared my mouth of any spare legs and showed my empty mouth to Probst.

Holmes wins…Wigler comes in second, Ross spits the remaining scorpion bits on a nearby camera.

In the end, I feel like the experience is much more mental than physical. If whatever was under the plate cover was moving, it’s possible I never would have touched it. And if the taste or smell was particularly bad I might not have had the stomach for it.

But the excitement between “Can I do it?” and actually doing it was awesome. Totally worth the twenty times I would brush my teeth immediately afterward.

And Mr. Wigler’s question? Yeah, it totally counts. Eight wins in a row, baby…

Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes

“Survivor: Second Chance” will kick off with a special 90-minute premiere on Wednesday, September 23rd at 8 p.m. ET.

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